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Radisson Blu Edwardian boss in High Court battle with father

20 November 2013 by
Radisson Blu Edwardian boss in High Court battle with father

One of the richest Asian businessmen in Britain and boss of the £800m Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel group has denied his elderly father's right to a share of his family wealth.

Jasminder Singh, 62, (pictured) is fighting his 86-year-old father Bal Mohinder Singh's High Court claim that under Sikh tradition he was entitled to a third of the family wealth.

Father and son still live in the same seven bedroom country house Tetworth Hall near Ascot racecourse, Berkshire, with their families.

The father who is suffering from ill health and may have to give his evidence from home claims that family property is covered by a constructive trust.

His counsel John McDonnell QC told the judge Sir William Blackburne : "The father is not claiming a share of any of Jasminder's wealth acquired by his own efforts. It is our claim that Jasminder's wealth is the family's wealth. The only cash put into the family's empire is that put in by the father in the 70's."

Jasminder is said to be worth around £415 million. But the court claim is said to be worth about £50m.

The father has said the claim is not about the money, but about tradition and his son's failure to abide by the "Mitakshara" system from Sikh and Hindu traditions which implies a sharing of family wealth.

The judge is being asked to decide as a preliminary issue, if the family property is subject to any constructive trust under English law, and if so what the terms of such a trust were.

If he decides that such a trust is binding there would be another trial to decide how much is due, if agreement cannot be reached.

Since 1973, father and son have turned a small family post office business in Stamford Hill, North London, into the multi million pound hotel group, which now comprises 14 Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels in London, Manchester and Guildford, and the May Fair hotel in the capital.

Jasminder initially helped in the business and after he qualified as an accountant, the family moved into hotels, beginning with acquiring a rundown B&B in Kensington, West London, which they refurbished and sold on at a profit.

The father claims his son forced him to retire in 2010 and now refuses to follow tradition by sharing the family wealth.

Bal Mohinder lives at Tetworth Hall with his 79-year-old wife and Jasminder's mother Satwant who is backing his claim.

Jasminder also lives there with his wife Amrit and their four children.

In a witness statement in the court proceedings his father said: "Both I and his mother are deeply ashamed that Jasminder should publicly renounce his cultural heritage and the mutual rights and obligations in which he was brought up.

"That family system based on custom and religious teaching is widely practised and universally understood by Hindus and Sikhs in India today just as it was in British India where I was brought up.

"It is also widely practised and universally understood in the Sikh and Hindu communities overseas including East Africa and the UK.

"My life has been devoted to winning respect for myself and family in those communities and the respect which we have earned as a family has been the basis for the success of our business in this country.

"For Jasminder to deny that and claim all the credit and ownership for himself will be shocking to wide sections of those communities particularly our family friends - that is why his mother and I are so ashamed."

But Jasminder claims that he did not have a particularly religious upbringing, that neither of his parents regarded the family to be living under an agreement to share property nor was there any such agreement.

The hearing set to last two weeks, at the end of which judgment will almost certainly be reserved to be given in writing later, continues.

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